Present address: Marine Science Center, Northeastern University, Nahant, MA 01908, USA.
Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems
Article first published online: 8 OCT 2007
Volume 10, Issue 12, pages 1135–1142, December 2007
How to Cite
Elser, J. J., Bracken, M. E.S., Cleland, E. E., Gruner, D. S., Harpole, W. S., Hillebrand, H., Ngai, J. T., Seabloom, E. W., Shurin, J. B. and Smith, J. E. (2007), Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology Letters, 10: 1135–1142. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2007.01113.x
- Issue published online: 8 OCT 2007
- Article first published online: 8 OCT 2007
- Editor, James Grover Manuscript received 27 March 2007 First decision made 4 May 2007 Second decision made 5 July 2007 Manuscript accepted 18 July 2007
- nutrient limitation;
- primary production
The cycles of the key nutrient elements nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) have been massively altered by anthropogenic activities. Thus, it is essential to understand how photosynthetic production across diverse ecosystems is, or is not, limited by N and P. Via a large-scale meta-analysis of experimental enrichments, we show that P limitation is equally strong across these major habitats and that N and P limitation are equivalent within both terrestrial and freshwater systems. Furthermore, simultaneous N and P enrichment produces strongly positive synergistic responses in all three environments. Thus, contrary to some prevailing paradigms, freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems are surprisingly similar in terms of N and P limitation.